The Latest on Vitamin D Supplementation (August 2023)
Through all my research and conversations with various physicians, the topic of vitamin D seems to be a hot topic. Even when I had COVID, colleagues suggested I take extra vitamin D, as it’s a part of the “COVID cocktail.”
Almost all tissues in the body have vitamin D receptors, leading to the idea that taking vitamin D supplements could prevent several health conditions. It’s become customary to have vitamin D levels checked when labs are drawn at the doctor’s office, and one third of U.S. adults 60 years of age or older take vitamin D supplements in addition to other supplements that may also contain vitamin D, such as multivitamins.
However, recent results from the VITAL (Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial) study may change how we approach vitamin D supplementation. VITAL randomly assigned 26,000 U.S. adults age 50 and older to one of four groups. The first group took 2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D3 and 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids each day, the second group took the vitamin D3 but took a placebo in place of the omega 3s, the third group took the omega-3 fatty acids but a placebo in place of the vitamin D3, and the fourth group took two placebos.
The results found that taking the vitamin D supplements did not prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease, did not improve cognitive function or stroke outcomes, and did not reduce atrial fibrillation, migraine frequency, age-related macular degeneration, knee pain or falls.
Another assessment from that study found that taking supplements containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 did not reduce participants’ risk of fractures, even when also taking calcium, during the five-year study period.
Based on these results, the VITAL researchers concluded that people who do not have a vitamin D deficiency do not need to take vitamin D supplements. These results are consistent with the current guidelines from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, which no longer suggest vitamin D or calcium supplements for the general population.
If you currently take vitamin D and are uncertain about stopping, I recommend you discuss this with your primary care doctor and have a consultation with a registered dietitian nutritionist who can look at your overall nutrient intake from both food and supplements.
www.nhlbi.nih.gov “Vitamin D for heart health: where the benefits begin and end” – September 27, 2022